The Tony Romo saga is done; at least for now. Although he left the door a smidge open, it appears as though Romo will no longer play football, instead he will now talk about it for a living. To tie a bow on everything, there is no need to rehash the Romo statistics or everything else you can easily find online.
Instead, here are just a few of the things people rarely remember about the Dallas Cowboys under Romo. Main things the talking heads on television never care to mention when they tell the story of the best statistical quarterback in the history of America’s Team.
Let’s start with a classic, he was better than Eli Manning, not up for debate either.
The per-game stats bear it out, fairly obviously too, that Romo was a better player. The team and coaching was never around Romo the way it was for Eli, and that is a shame. Unfortunately for Romo, he didn’t have any lucky helmet catches to guide his legacy, instead, he got a terrible call on what would have been a huge catch by Dez Bryant. Called properly, the Cowboys likely win that game and play the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game, which my gut tells me Dallas wins. No such luck for Romo.
Along similar lines, Romo got crushed for losing the playoff game against the Giants. Blaming the Cabo trip is easy, but no one ever brings up had Patrick Crayton just caught the easy pass across the middle in the third quarter, he might still be running. The Cowboys would’ve scored points on that drive and taken control of the game. It was one of the biggest plays in the game, but all media types remember is that Romo lost, not that his teammates didn’t help.
However, it wasn’t even the biggest botched play by Crayton in the game. On the final drive, Romo was setup to be the hero when he threw a perfect pass down the right sideline to Crayton in the waning seconds. Ball placement was perfect, the receiver had his man beat, and Crayton inexplicably pulled up on the route. A missed opportunity for Romo to be the hero, a missed chance for the Cowboys to advance and all you heard after the game was how Romo choked (again) after he threw a desperation interception on the next play.
No one, ever, remembers that play, except perhaps hardcore Cowboys fans. The media types will never replay that or tell the full story of that game or of that play. It sunk the Cowboys and pushed Romo further into the ‘choker’ role.
And the choker stigma cropped up because Romo bobbled a snap in his first playoff game in Seattle. However, no one mentions there was 1:19 left on the clock and Seattle still could have won the game late, they only needed a field goal. Or that Bill Parcells coached scared in that game, refusing to attack a severely undermanned Seahawks secondary.
Romo would never relinquish that moniker either. Not even as he led the NFL in game winning drives from 2006-2014. Not even as he won games with terrible teams, or as he had one of the best fourth quarter passer ratings in the history of the game.
Instead, people will remember Romo losing, not the team, in two straight ‘win and in’ situations. Only to forget that Romo played with basically a broken thumb against the Giants in one of those games. Or that Miles Austin lost a ball in the lights in a game that would’ve propelled the Cowboys to the playoffs a few weeks earlier.
But across most media outlets, none of this will be remembered. Instead, they’ll harp on everything that Romo didn’t do. About how he shrunk in so many big situations.
For those that truly believe that, ask a simple question, without taking more than a minute or two, list the games that Tony Romo choked away. As a fan of the team, I can name about six that we can put on Romo. SIX, in roughly 10 years as a quarterback, and not all in ‘big games,’ yet this is what so many describe as a choker, even to some who cover the team.
Tony Romo wasn’t without his flaws and he did have some rough moments, but no more than any quarterback who plays at such a high level in the NFL. The way he’ll be remembered by most is a shame. He wasn’t a choker and in many ways he saved a Cowboys team headed down a dark path after Troy Aikman retired. Quarterbacks with a 61% winning percentage, four Pro Bowls and top five All-time passer ratings aren’t losers.
It just never clicked all at once for Tony Romo. No tuck rule or helmet catches helped him, instead, he got the tough end of the stick on most occasions. That’s life, as they say, for Romo.
But he kept coming back, through all the jokes and the tough breaks, through all the pain of punctured lungs and broken bones, he played on. And persevered.
That’s how I’ll remember Tony Romo, as a player who was unfairly criticized and rarely was the whole truth told about him. He deserved much better than he got, but he smiled through almost all of it.
Cheers to an amazing career for an undrafted played! And for a quarterback who is better than Eli Manning.
You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi